If you do not vote for what you believe in, who will?

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If you do not vote for what you believe in, who will?

A sign points voters to an early voting location at ACC-Highland Mall.

A sign points voters to an early voting location at ACC-Highland Mall.

Deborah Cannon/American Statesman

A sign points voters to an early voting location at ACC-Highland Mall.

Deborah Cannon/American Statesman

Deborah Cannon/American Statesman

A sign points voters to an early voting location at ACC-Highland Mall.

Sarah Levinson, Contributing Writer

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With the upcoming 2020 presidential election just around the corner and local elections this week, it is essential to understand how important a vote is in this unpredictable political climate. For many of us at UNC Wilmington, this will be our first time voting in a local or presidential election.

Before you decide whether or not you are going to vote in the upcoming elections, here are five reasons why it is important for you to vote.

1. As American citizens, it is our right to vote in elections, but through the eyes of citizens in many other countries across the world, it is a privilege. Take advantage of it.

2. You may argue that whoever takes office in 2020 will not affect you in anyway. But what about five years from now? Will you be paying for your own health insurance? Will you have a job? Will you be paying taxes? Paying off student loans? The president and elected officials in office will greatly affect these factors in your life.

Local policies and elected officials will affect you even more so on a daily basis. The president and federal government have no say in how your city budgets its spending or what kinds of policies your local government puts in place. Income taxes, education funding and reproductive rights are just a few examples of issues that are decided at a local level, and they affect you every single day.

3. Every. Single. Vote. Matters. In multiple cases throughout U.S. history, the result of an election was decided by just a single vote. If you ever feel that your vote will not matter, just look at the case of Shelly Simonds, who won a seat in the Virginia state legislature by receiving just one more vote than her opponent. Your single vote could change the outcome of an entire election.

4. Voting is a right that generations of Americans have struggled to win; many people in other countries are still fighting for it. What many of our ancestors have fought for has been given to you, it is important you honor that fight by expressing your right to vote.

5. If you do not stand up and vote for what you believe is important for you and your community, then who will? We all have issues and ideals that are important to us. If there is change you wish to seek or ideas you wish to be implemented, it is only up to you to defend your ideals.

Everyone wants their voice to be heard. This is your voice. Use it.